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Victories of Love

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Mother, I smile at your alarms!I own, indeed, my Cousin’s charms,But, like all nursery maladies,Love is not badly taken twice.Have you forgotten Charlotte Hayes,My playmate in the pleasant daysAt Knatchley, and her sister, Anne,The twins, so made on the same plan,That one wore blue, the other white,To mark them to their father’s sight;And how, at Knatchley harvesting,You bade me kiss her in the ring,Like Anne and all the others?  You,That never of my sickness knew,Will laugh, yet had I the disease,And gravely, if the signs are these:   As, ere the Spring has any power,The almond branch all turns to flower,Though not a leaf is out, so sheThe bloom of life provoked in meAnd, hard till then and selfish, IWas thenceforth nought but sanctityAnd service: life was mere delightIn being wholly good and right,As she was; just, without a slur;Honouring myself no less than her;Obeying, in the loneliest place,Ev’n to the slightest gesture, grace,Assured that one so fair, so true,He only served that was so too.For me, hence weak towards the weak,No more the unnested blackbird’s shriekStartled the light-leaved wood; on highWander’d the gadding butterfly,Unscared by my flung cap; the bee,Rifling the hollyhock in glee,Was no more trapp’d with his own flower,And for his honey slain.  Her power,From great things even to the grassThrough which the unfenced footways pass,Was law, and that which keeps the law,Cherubic gaiety and awe;Day was her doing, and the larkHad reason for his song; the darkIn anagram innumerous speltHer name with stars that throbb’d and felt;’Twas the sad summit of delightTo wake and weep for her at night;She turn’d to triumph or to shameThe strife of every childish game;The heart would come into my throatAt rosebuds; howsoe’er remote,In opposition or consent,Each thing, or person, or event,Or seeming neutral howsoe’er,All, in the live, electric air,Awoke, took aspect, and confess’dIn her a centre of unrest,Yea, stocks and stones within me bredAnxieties of joy and dread.   O, bright apocalyptic skyO’erarching childhood!  Far and nighMystery and obscuration none,Yet nowhere any moon or sun!What reason for these sighs?  What hope,Daunting with its audacious scopeThe disconcerted heart, affectsThese ceremonies and respects?Why stratagems in everything?Why, why not kiss her in the ring?’Tis nothing strange that warriors bold,Whose fierce, forecasting eyes beholdThe city they desire to sack,Humbly begin their proud attackBy delving ditches two miles off,Aware how the fair place would scoffAt hasty wooing; but, O child,Why thus approach thy playmate mild?   One morning, when it flush’d my thoughtThat, what in me such wonder wroughtWas call’d, in men and women, love,And, sick with vanity thereof,I, saying loud, ‘I love her,’ toldMy secret to myself, beholdA crisis in my mystery!For, suddenly, I seem’d to beWhirl’d round, and bound with showers of threads,As when the furious spider shedsCaptivity upon the flyTo still his buzzing till he die;Only, with me, the bonds that flew,Enfolding, thrill’d me through and throughWith bliss beyond aught heaven can have,And pride to dream myself her slave....